They spoke up for
us and now it's time that we speak up for them!
On July 12, 2002, a federal court in Georgia found 36 SOA Watch activists guilty and sentenced them for speaking out against the School of the Americas (SOA) in a nonviolent protest on the Fort Benning military reservation. Twenty-nine received prison terms ranging from three months to the maximum of six months - one more attempt to silence the movement to close the SOA, and to prevent others from speaking out. Toni Flynn, 56, a Catholic Worker and mother of four from Valyermo, CA, Peter Gelderloos, 20, an activist from Harrisonburg, VA, and Father Jerry Zawada, 65, a Franciscan priest from Cedar Lake, IN, were taken to Crisp County Jail in Georgia. It was assumed that this was to be a brief stop in transit to a federal prison near their homes.
Now, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has designated Crisp County Jail as the location where the three will serve the remainder of their six-month sentences. The three have reported deplorable conditions in this jail including dangerous medical neglect. The Crisp County Jail does not comply with federal standards for the treatment of prisoners. The Crisp County Jail does not permit visits on weekends and the visitation facilities do not meet the BOP criteria (see federal code citation below).
Federal Code citation: 28 Code of Federal Regulations Sections 540.41 and 540.42 provide requirements for proper visitation facilities and visiting times for inmates. "At a minimum, the Warden shall establish visiting hours at the institution on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays" (Section 540.42(a)). It is the policy of the BOP "to encourage visiting by family, friends, and community groups to maintain the morale of the inmate and to develop closer relationships between the inmate and family members or others in the community" (Section 540.40).
Here's what you can do: *Write a letter to the Southeast Regional Director of the BOP to demand that the SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience be moved to a facility near their home and that the situation at Crisp County Jail has to change for all prisoners. In doing research on the Net it appears that there has been more litigation concerning Georgia County jails than any other state.
Fax and snail-mail your letter to:
R.E. Holt Southeast Regional Director Federal Bureau of Prisons 3800 Camp Creek Parkway, S.W. Building 2000 Atlanta, GA 30331-6226 Fax: 678 686.1229
*Contact your congressperson. Point out that while SOA-trained killers continue to act with impunity, nonviolent people of conscience are in prison under harsh conditions. Urge your congressperson to contact R.E. Holt to inquire about the conditions in Crisp County Jail that are in violation of federal law, and to demand that Peter, Toni, and Jerry be moved to a facility in compliance with federal standards. If your representative is a co-sponsor of HR 1810 (the bill to close the SOA), thank them for their support. If not, take this opportunity to ask them to sign on. Click here for more legislative information and a list of co-sponsors.
*Come to Fort Benning, Nov. 15-17, 2002, and take the place of those who have been incarcerated.